My Plant is "Leaving on a Jet Plane..."
by Judy Thomas
One of the first things I did on a recent trip to South Florida was go to a tropical plant nursery to buy a cool plant to draw, one that was not easily available in Virginia, nor as lush. I found a stunning Indonesian pitcher plant, Nepenthes alata. I drew it, and, as I did, I fell in love, as we botanical art people often do with a plant. I had purchased it thinking I would leave it behind, but.....
I had a thought "Can I take it back on the plane?" I knew Hawaii banned any plants or plant material from going in or out of the state, except certified ones (out of the state), to prevent invasions by exotics. I knew Florida and California also restricted plants brought in. I also knew that some states banned plants that were pests in that state. But could I bring a commercially propagated plant home with me?
I first checked the airlines. Their main concern is that the plant not make a mess, so sealing it in a 5 gallon, zipper-closing bag or other waterproof container was necessary. Second, the plant had to be small enough to be carried on as your "personal item" and, hence, fit under the seat in front of you. Check and check. I also knew that N. alata could not survive in Virginia and was not on the noxious plant list for the state. So, good there.
Then I checked the TSA website and found that houseplants are allowed, as long as they are small enough to go through regular screening...and could possibly trigger a delay for special screening. So, we got to the airport early. And voila! The plant went through the x-ray with nary a second look by the TSA and onto the plane!
I have finished drawing the plant, but now....how to keep it alive? I really, really love it. Anyone have a used aquarium they want to get rid of? I have a heat mat!
Mr. N. alata in his bag: